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ASTA Agencies Forecast Moderate Staffing Growth

November 9, 2011 By: George Dooley Travel Agent

Most American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) members expect their employment levels to remain the same in 2012, according to an ASTA Labor & Compensation survey conducted this fall. ASTA reports that a tenth of the agencies plan to add new employees and a further 20 percent expect to contract with more independent contractors (ICs).
“These results show that employment within the industry is holding steady and in some cases, showing moderate gains. In a time of economic uncertainty, even modest growth is a positive for an industry dependent on consumer confidence. The projected increase in full-time agent salaries for a third of agencies shows that the market for travel agents is heading in the right direction,” said ASTA CEO Tony Gonchar.
The 72 percent of ASTA members who have employees and/or use outside agents were asked what changes they planned in 2012 in regard to their expected staffing levels, as well benefits and compensation.

ASTA said the results show that while the vast majority do not plan to make changes in the number of full- or part-time employees or in the number of ICs they use for outside sales, there are those agencies looking to boost staffing levels. A very small percentage plan to decrease their number of employees or the number of ICs they currently use.
Changes Expected in 2012 for Number of Employees and ICs:
#of Full-time agents: 10% increase – 1% decrease – 89% no change
#of Part-time agents: 12% increase – 4% decrease – 85% no change
#of ICs: 20% increase – 3% decrease – 77% no change
ASTA reports that a larger percentage of agencies expect to make positive changes with respect to compensation levels for full-time employees, with a third planning to increase employee salaries. A much smaller percentage expects to increase compensation for part-time employees and ICs. Although most agents will not see their benefits increase in 2012, even fewer will see reduced benefits.
Changes Expected in 2012 for Compensation and Benefits:
Compensation for full-time agents: 28% increase – 2% decrease – 70% no change
Compensation for part-time agents: 13% increase – 1% decrease – 86% no change
Compensation for ICs: 6% increase – 1% decrease – 93% no change
Benefits for full-time agents: 9% increase – 2% decrease – 90% no change
Benefits for part-time agents: 3% increase – 0% decrease – 97% no change
Results from the full 2011 Labor & Compensation Study will be available in the first quarter of 2012, ASTA notes. The study reveals trends in compensation models, salaries, benefits, and hiring practices for travel agencies. Contact Melissa Teates, ASTA’s director of research, at [email protected] for further information.
Survey data was collected through the 2011 ASTA Research Family. The ASTA Research Family is a panel comprised of a representative sample of ASTA member travel agency owners and managers. The Research Family reflects ASTA members in key agency demographics including sales volume, leisure/business mix, number of part-time and full-time employees and geographic location. The survey data was collected online via in June/July 2011. This reply level indicates a minimum of 95% confidence with an error rate +/-4.8% representing the total ASTA agency membership.


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George Dooley
George Dooley, Travel Agent’s senior contributing editor covering retail and technology, has a long-standing reputation as one of the top travel industry journalists. He notes...

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By George Dooley | November 9, 2011
A tenth of agencies plan to add new employees and 20 percent will hire more independent contractors, reports the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA).
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